Why do we love music?

When deep emotional moments came in the songs determined by the listeners, dopamine was released in the area called  nucleus accumbens.

Everyone has stories about how certain songs have touched them. When you are attending a concert, singing in the shower, listening to the radio you can feel certain magic to music that can fill us with emotion from joy to sadness.

Must has the energy that non other entity has and for about years now scientists have been wondering how and why. But now, in the 21st century some answers have been found.  fMRI is a modern technology which has been helping us discover why music can inspire us to have such emotions and the power it holds while connecting with people more easily.

Valorie Salimpor, a scientist at McGill University who studies the brain activity based on music says, ”  Music affects deep emotional centers in the brain.” “A single sound tone is not really pleasurable in itself; but if these sounds are organized over time in some sort of arrangement, it’s amazingly powerful.”

How can music make our brain happy?

In one of her studies, Salimpor and her colleagues hooked up the participants to an fMRI machine and recorded their brain activity while they were listening to their favorite song. When deep emotional moments came in the songs determined by the listeners, dopamine was released in the area called  nucleus accumbens. Nucleus accumbens was a structure found deep within the older part of our human brain.

Salimpoor said, ““That’s a big deal, because dopamine is released with biological rewards, like eating and sex, for example.”  “It’s also released with drugs that are very powerful and addictive, like cocaine or amphetamines.”

According to research, there is another part of the brain that trickles dopamine. Dopamine is particularly released just before those peak emotional moments in a song. It is released in the caudate nucleus. The nucleus is involved in the expectation of pleasure. Most likely, the expected pleasure comes from familiarity with the a certain song. You have a memory of the song you enjoyed in the past and got rotted in your brain, you expect the high points that are about to hit you. This pairing of expectation and pleasure is a powerful combination. It suggests that we are biologically-driven to listen to music we like.

So, how exactly music synchronizes brain?

A music psychologist at the University of Connecticut, Ed Large agrees that indeed music can release powerful emotions. He studies the variations found in the dynamics of music. Slowing down or speeding up the rhythm of music or louder or softer tones in a piece. It resonates in the brain which affects one’s enjoyment and emotional response.

Different notes found in different folks?

In a particular study, neuroscientists came up with different styles of songs. They monitored brain activity of the people and they were able to find out that music has its impacts on many centers of the brain at the same time. But, surprisingly, each style of music is made of its own pattern. The uptempo songs create one particular kind of pattern. Slow songs creating another pattern, lyrical songs creates another, and so on. People may not like the songs or may not have a lot of musical expertise but their brains still looked surprisingly similar to the brains of people who did enjoy the music.


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